If you want to travel in the developing world yet leave a light footprint, consider pointing yourself to Poland, Suriname, or Chile. These countries are among the surprising selections on “The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations” of 2010 named by Ethical Traveler, reports Earth Island Journal. Here’s the full list:
• South Africa
“The ten destinations … offer not only scenic beauty and memorable experiences, but also set a positive example in the areas of environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights,” writes Earth Island Journal.
The full ethical destinations report at the Ethical Traveler website contains a detailed description of methodology and some interesting notes about the countries that won—and those that didn’t:
• Lithuania and Chile are green champions, having scored particularly well in environmental protection.
• The “developing world” part of the criteria means that some countries that were on last year’s list, such as Estonia and Croatia, have basically prospered their way out of eligibility.
• “Notably, not a single Asian country made it to the Top 10. Irresponsible development, human rights abuses, and a lack of strong environmental policy kept them all off the list again this year. Perhaps surprisingly, though, four African countries—three on the mainland, and one island republic—made the final list. We believe this bodes well for the future of these nations and, hopefully, for the African continent.”
• Nicaragua was bounced from the list because of its poorly run 2008 municipal elections and a worsening record on human rights and freedoms of speech and the press. “We remove Nicaragua with regret, as the country has created many initiatives to help local communities benefit from tourism, and is taking strong steps to protect and restore its tropical forests.”
• Bhutan may be the only country in the world to measure success by a Gross National Happiness Index, but still it doesn’t make the cut: “Despite its sublime natural beauty and extraordinary commitment to preserving the environment,” writes Ethical Traveler, “the highly nationalistic kingdom is still plagued by human rights issues.”